Sunday, 8 August 2010

“The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966” by VARIOUS ARTISTS. A Review of the 2003 CD Compilation.

"….When You Hear Me Moanin’ And A Groanin’…”

There are no less than 3 companies attributed to this release - Hip-O Records, Reelin’ In The Years Productions and Experience Hendrix – because each was involved in their own way. I’ve bought The Temptations “Get Ready” and the Muddy Waters “Classic Concerts” DVDs by Reelin’ In The Years Productions which are truly fantastic things – so I’m not surprised that their audio version here is just as good.

Hip-O Records B000103002 has 16 live tracks and runs to 59:17 minutes (now more commonly known as Hip-O Select). The 24-page booklet has affectionate and informative liner notes by ROB BOWMAN with a forward by BILL WYMAN of The Rolling Stones. Concert posters, black & white and colour publicity photos and intimate moments are all featured - as is a snap of HORST LIPPMANN who along with FRITZ RAU - are the two German enthusiasts who started it all. There’s even a snap of a row of Little Walter’s many harmonicas laid out on a table! A colour picture of the mighty Willie Dixon graces the rear of the booklet with T-Bone Walker featured on the CD’s back inlay. The pictures of the boys are from the tour as well - and not overused shots we’ve all seen before – so they’ve a very cool vibe about them. The booklet is substantial and very tastefully done.

SOUND varies from sublime to very rough (the nature of the recordings). The audio restoration and transfers are by Eddie Kramer and Mark Wong while the mastering is handled by ace-engineer GAVIN LURSSEN (see the Gavin Lurssen ‘tag’ for his superb work elsewhere). The musicians featured in each group read like a who’s who of Blues luminaries and they’re captured at their absolute mojo best. Favourites include Lonnie Johnson’s plaintive “Another Night To Cry” and the opening vocal wail of Otis Rush’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby” (lyrics above). “My Younger Days” by Sonny Boy Williamson has wonderful rolling piano work by Sunnyland Slim while Lightnin’ Hopkins loses none of his menace on “Mojo Hand”.

It’s great stuff – different voices and styles. Sippie Wallace and Victoria Spivey break up the all-male proceedings with some ladylike advice about keeping good men and ditching the snakelike ones.
And preciously because it’s 'all' live - each song is filled with a power and presence that the studio stuff just can’t capture.

A job well done and a thoroughly recommended CD purchase.

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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